Photo: commons: RIA Novosti
The Siege of Leningrad began 70 years ago this month.While relatively little known in the West, the event remains one of the lingering memories of the war for Russia — click here to see the photos >
Hitler had special plans for Leningrad, now known as St. Petersberg, a city that was once the Russian capital and the birthplace of Russian communism. He even had plans for a party at the Hotel Astoria and wanted to rename the city “Adolfsburg” — although he was also considering burning it to the ground.
Caught between German and Finnish troops, the Soviet army in Leningrad was besieged. Over a million citizens in the city were mobilized in June 1941 to help build fortifications. On September 7th all land connections to the city were severed by the Axis front.
Artillery bombing of the city began in September 1941 and continued for 872 days.
The destruction wrought on the city has been called the largest loss of life in any modern city. Books were burnt for heat and zoo animals were eaten for meat — some even resorted to cannibalism. It is thought that 750,000 civilians and the same amount of soldiers died during the siege.
Before the siege the city contained around 3 million people. It did not reach those levels of population again until the 1960s.
People in besieged Leningrad taking water from shell-holes. Location: Nevsky Prospect, between Gostiny Dvor (the long building on the left) and Ostrovsky Square (1941)
A group of Russian children, evacuated from Leningrad two years ago during the worst days of the siege, learn sewing, embroidery and other needlework while sitting outside at the collective farm where they found a new home, in the Kirov region of the USSR (1943)
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